Renovation Project Planning: Tips for Fitting a Laundry into a Bathroom

Having in-unit laundry machines is a luxury right up there with having a dishwasher, a flood of natural light and perhaps parking. When you get a stain, have guests over or just plain need something clean to wear, there's nothing better than being able to do a quick load without having to schelp all your stuff to the laundromat. If you have a little space that you can give up in your bathroom or closet, you might be able to gain a whole laundry area.

While in my own building there are shared coin-operated laundry facilities in the basement, many of the units have figured out clever ways to sneak laundry machines into their home — either in existing closets or bathrooms — without any major renovations. Here are the tips we've learned:

Find Existing Plumbing: Your best option for a low-cost laundry retrofit, is to install the machines on the same wall as existing plumbing stacks. This might mean adjacent to, or on the backside of, your bathroom or mechanical room wall. Existing plumbing means both water supply and waste lines are easily accessible, without these plumbing could be the most expensive component of your project.

Stackable Machines: Front-loading units, as opposed to all-in-one, give you a full-size washer and dryer option, that can be stacked on one another to save space. You can then consider installing shelving or cabinets above for extra storage. You will need to install a vent from the machines to the exterior wall, which can run within the ceiling joists if there's space, or you'll need to create a soffit to conceal it under the joists.

Combined (All In One): Popular overseas, combination units are becoming more common in the US as technology improves. A combination machine works as both a washer and dryer in a single unit. Because of this, the laundry cycle takes longer, but the payoff is in the small footprint and lack of need for an exterior air vent. These units are sized to conveniently fit under counter or inside a closet. If you don't like seeing exposed appliances, consider concealing the machine behind a door that matches your bathroom cabinets.

Under Counter: If you currently have a large vanity, all you need to do give up a little cabinet space and possibly that extra sink, to make room for laundry. You could either install the combo unit under counter, or shorten the vanity space altogether and install the stacked unit option.

Closet: If you have a linen or hall closet to spare, these make really great laundry location options. You'll want to make sure the closet is large enough to have at least a 2'6" wide door to easily access and fully open the machine doors. The closet should be at least 2-6"-2'9" deep, but ideally closer to 3'0" deep to fit full sized units.

Extra Built-ins: If you have any extra room to spare, consider converting cabinets and drawers to convenient and space-saving pull-out hampers and ironing boards — Rev-A-Shelf has some great options.


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